If you’re travelling to Central Vietnam, don’t miss out the little town of Hoi An as you visit the old imperial city Hue and the white sand beaches of Danang. The charming UNESCO Heritage town of Hoi An, with its narrow alleyways and preserved diverse architecture styles, makes for a perfect weekend getaway. Here’s what you can do in Hoi An in just 48 hours.
Hoi An Weekend Itinerary
Starting Your Holiday in Hoi An
Hoi An’s claim to fame is that you can get shoes and clothes tailored quickly for cheap, even with just 48 hours. The streets of the old town are lined with shoemakers and tailors galore – get a recommendation from your hotel or pop into a few places to get a feel of their service and whether they will be able to meet your quick turnaround time. I made a simple long-sleeved blouse and a copy of a pair of shoes overnight!
But be warned that quality does take time, so keep your requests relatively simple, know exactly what you want and manage your expectations for the best outcome. The people who take your measurements aren’t usually the people who are sewing the clothes.
Take this time wandering around the old town to admire the quaint shophouse architecture of the old town. This UNESCO Heritage site feels like a step back in history and reflects the various cultures that have passed through this port town – you will find Japanese, European and Chinese influences in the architecture.
Afternoon in Hoi An
Visitors to Hoi An often limit their explorations to the charming little streets of the old town, but I think you should try and venture a little further, and what better way to do it but the typical Vietnamese way – on a scooter?
I recommend checking out a motorcycle tour that lets you experience local activities like Vespa Adventures which provides you the cutest vintage Vespa scooters to ride on, and even a local driver to zip you around so you don’t even have to be able to ride.You’ll get to meet local families and see their way of life, something that might be a bit hard to accomplish on your own with such a short time.
I did a similar tour with Vespa Adventures when in Ho Chi Minh City so I know they have real local knowledge – this tour in Hoi An looks like it will be really fun and educational.
Evening Tours in Hoi An
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Bertrand Gimat
Hopefully, you’ve picked the full moon period (14th and 15th day of the Lunar Calendar) to be in Hoi An, because this is when the town really comes alive. Colourful lanterns are lit and little boats with candles are floated down the river in the dark. It’s really magical to hop into a little boat as night falls and take a river cruise through the floating lights.
Or get dinner in a spot with a view of the river so you can take in the lights as you enjoy a hearty meal consisting of local delicacies like the White Rose dumplings, Hoi An wantons or Mi Quang noodles just to name a few.
A Weekend in Hoi An
One of the most enjoyable ways to learn about a culture is through its food, and Vietnam is no exception. Even within Vietnam, the central area has its unique cuisine compared to that of its famous pho-loving neighbours in the north and bahn mi sandwiches of the south.
Start your day right with a cooking class by Red Bridge and learn firsthand how to prepare yummy central Vietnamese delights – this is a souvenir of your trip that will go a long way! What i like about this cooking class is not just learning about what makes up a Vietnamese meal, but you get to visit Hoi An’s markets to pick up fresh ingredients for the day and see local culture up close, as well as enjoy a little boat tour in the day time.
A quick and cheap way to get around on limited time in Hoi An is to rent a bicycle for your explorations. My hotel rented bicycles for just $1/day for its guests!
Cycle around the pedestrianised area of Hoi An to see the main town sights that you haven’t already seen, or take a ride north towards the beaches of Cua Dai and An Bang to just chill out away from the bustle of the old city centre. Bring your swimwear if the weather is right and just spend your afternoon relaxing on the sands.
If you made clothes on the first day, you may need to pop in for a fitting and so the tailors can make any necessary adjustments to your clothes. Otherwise, take a last look around town as it’s time to get all your souvenirs packed as you will need to take a bus or taxi to nearby Danang to either catch the train or your flight to your next destination.
If you found 48 hours too short, make sure you plan to come back to Hoi An again!
Best time to visit Hoi An
For cool weather to walk around in, visit Hoi An from February to April when the weather is relatively dry and temperatures lower, perfect for outdoor exploration.
May to July gets much hotter, which is great for beach lovers though outdoor exploration becomes a much sweatier affair.
It gets much wetter during year end, especially around November to January, and Hoi An is a low-lying area quite prone to flooding! I visited in November, the day after a thigh-high flood – the roads were dry by the time I was there but were covered with a lot of debris and mud. It is still okay to travel, but just be prepared and to be safe, make sure your hotel room is not on the ground level!
How to Get There
Flights to Hoi An, Vietnam: The closest airport to Hoi An is in Danang. Hoi An is about an hour away from Danang by car or taxi, or you could take a bus as well.
If you are flying from Singapore, Jetstar and Silkair fly direct to Danang in 2.5 hours but only on certain days of the week.
Where to stay in Hoi An
Maximise your limited time by staying in the old city centre of Hoi An where you are a stone’s throw away from most of the attractions. Check out Thien Tan Homestay or Vinh Hung Library Hotel, and if you are willing to splurge, check out the luxury Almanity Hotel.
Visa Requirements for Singaporeans to Vietnam
Singaporeans do not require a visa to visit Vietnam for up to 30 days.